Thursday, July 2, 2015

Thursday Tidbits

Happy Tuesday friends - is it really July already?! I have been keeping to a rigorous schedule...so much so, that I thought I posted this update several days ago - in reality, I prepared the photos and then never wrote the post. Ugh. Although I haven't found much time to blog lately, I have been keeping busy with a wide range of creative projects! I have done a plethora of red, white, and blue sewing/quilting for customers (my own original designs)...and I have my next five customer projects cut and ready to piece...and I am currently sewing a large customer quilt that combines Ohio Star blocks and Nine-Patch blocks. I received three new AccuQuilt Cutting dies that I am looking forward to playing with, as well...I just need a few more hours in each day! I am stitching every evening on my exclusive Komen 3-Day fundraising piece...which is coming along beautifully...look a little further down in this post for a peek. I am also doing daily training walks with Schatzi and going to the gym...and trying desperately to keep up with house and yard work. Yep, as always, I am keeping busy, but I am in a good place and enjoying my crazy schedule...






I continue to see beauty and inspiration on my daily walks...and I try to snap a few photos along the way. With the flooding, we are not able to go to the lake (or walk some of our favorite trails), so we have been walking the neighborhood. Here are just a few photos of what has been inspiring me...I love to soak in the colors this time of year...





Finally, last weekend, I took a (rare) moment to unwind and relax - my husband and I enjoyed margaritas on our deck...and even lit the fire pit...it was a lovely evening...


So now, it is back to my schedule...I have an hour of cardio at the gym, a lawn to mow, dogs to walk, and a date with my sewing machine...

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Fabulous Finishing Frenzy

It's been a productive couple weeks...I have been very focused in my studio working on all sorts of customer projects. Last week, I completed all the Blue Ribbon Finishing orders that had been sent my way...yep, it was a fabulous finishing frenzy. I managed to snap photos of some of the projects, so I thought I would share an assortment of the beautiful needlework pieces my customers trusted me to finish...designers/chart titles are listed with each photo and stitched names/initials are blurred for privacy...

Threadwork Primitives - "Growing Love" Stitcher's Wallet (Ladies Prim Society)

Blue Ribbon Designs - A Christmas Wish of Health and Happiness
(this complimentary design can be found on my website)

Hillside Samplings - Alphabet Needlebook

Robin's Egg Pincushion - Sisters & Best Friends

Stitcher's Nametag - La-D-Da

Prairie Schooler - The Cabin Pinkeep Ornament

Abby Rose Designs - To Thine Own Self...Be True

JBW Designs - Christmas Tree Ornament 

 Dansk Blomstergarn - Haandarbejdets Fremme

Tiny Garden Scissor Fob - Shepherd's Bush
Aren't they all beautiful?...some of these projects are now on my personal wishlist - like the gorgeous Shepherd's Bush scissor fob (isn't the ribbon they kitted with it perfect?!)...it makes me smile!

I have also been doing TONS of sewing/quilting for customers, as well. I finished up a lovely spring table runner, a plethora of patriotic table runners and toppers, and an appliqué project for AccuQuilt....I even have several of my own sewing/quilting designs completed and ready for pattern writing (woo hoo!). Next up, a special throw quilt featuring the Ohio Star block, two appliqué wall hangings, a set of six quilted placemats and napkins, a fabulous/detailed appliqué quilt, and two wall hangings that feature machine embroidery...hmmmm - I may need a magic wand to get it all completed!

...oh, and did I mention, in my spare time I am stitching this year's exclusive fundraising design for my Komen 3-Day 60-mile walk...and it is "oh so special"...I can't wait to share it with you...maybe I will post a peek soon...

...and yes, I am walking daily...putting lots of training miles in the heat and humidity...and Schatzi is keeping up with me! Thanks to a WONDERFUL donation, my airline flights to Dallas are booked and paid for...now to work on getting two new pairs of shoes and a replacement air mattress. November will be here before we know it, so I better get to stitching on my fundraising design - I have a long way to go to reach my goal!

I'll be back soon to share some of my recent sewing and quilting projects with you...

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Quiet After Dark

Summer temperatures have just arrived in Iowa and I am not even remotely thinking about the winter holidays...but if you are "one of those" early bird needleworkers already working on Christmas ornaments, then you are in luck (and WAY too ahead of the game), because the Just CrossStitch Annual Christmas Ornament Preview Issue is here! If you have been enjoying my woodland ornament series, then you will be happy to see Blue Ribbon Designs included in this issue. You can find "Quiet After Dark" on page 25 of the August 2015 Issue (Volume 33, No.4), which is now available. This is the 10th anniversary of the JCS Ornament Preview issue and it contains a lovely assortment of 10 ornaments that will give you just a taste of what is to come in the JCS Christmas Ornaments Issue (which you will find Blue Ribbon Designs in, as well!).

My 2015 preview ornament complements my woodland ornaments from the past several years - and as usual, combines cross stitch over both one and two linen threads. I stitched the model on 40-count Mocha linen from Weeks Dye Works (same as previous ornaments in this series) and used Weeks Dye Works cotton floss. I opted for a flat-finish with two-tone cord as an embellishment....and as a little finishing tip for those of you using the 40-count linen - I used standard hotel room keys padded with cotton batting (or you could use fake or expired credit cards) instead of the padded mounting board that the magazine suggests...they are the perfect size!



Look for another woodland series ornament in the JCS Christmas Ornament Issue out later this year...and if you are a Halloween fan - there are several publications on the way with Blue Ribbon Designs!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Eye Candy and Inspiration

I'm a day later than I originally planned with this post...but sometimes, life gets in the way. I spent most of the week hunkered down in my studio, playing catch-up and working on a variety of projects, including some needlework finishing for a customer. I still have a pile of cross stitch pieces I am working on this weekend, but I thought I would share a couple of the projects that were returned to their happy home yesterday. I really enjoy needlework finishing for customers...especially when they let me finish each piece as I see fit...it's just carving out the time in my schedule to get them completed...luckily my clientele are EXTREMELY patient! I tend to go "off the beaten path" with a lot of my finishing...especially when the projects don't include finishing supplies or if the finishing instructions are questionable...and if I know the stitcher, I try my best to finish them to match their personality...

Blackbird Designs: Loose Feathers #20 - Secret Garden
Box Top and Strawberry

Milady's Needle: Cottage Charm Stitcher's Pocket and Needlebook

Inside Cottage Charm Needlebook

 ....and speaking of beautiful needlework...I received the most AMAZING gift from a very dear friend...a set incredible handmade berry pincushions that were each personalized especially for me (and all the tops are finished differently)...and they came in a lovely glass-sided box that holds them all...and I can't stop staring at  them...aren't they breathtaking??!!



This week, I also got to take an impromptu road trip with my fabulous friend Mary...we headed to my very favorite quilt shop in Creston, Iowa called Quilts and Other Notions...I needed a few more yards of fabric for a project I am working on a customer...plus, we both *needed* a little time away. Luckily, the quilt shop still had the fabrics I was searching for (plus a couple others)...and we got the first stamps on our All Iowa Shop Hop passports. We then stopped at the local Mexican Restaurant for lunch. Driving back, on a whim, I turned off on the highway to Winterset...we got to see more of the Iowa countryside and visit the Fons & Porter Love of Quilting Quilt Shop and the Ben Franklin (I always enjoy a visit to Ben Franklin - it is like going back in time!). We had a lovely day!

My very favorite quilt shop - if you are in the Creston, Iowa area
you should definitely make arrangements for a visit!



I have also been getting in daily training walks and play sessions with Miss Schatzi. Now that our favorite trail is open again, we have been getting in at least 5-miles per day (and that is saying a lot with rain, rain, and more rain in the forecast almost every day). I try to Instagram a photo from most of my 3-Day training walks - we see so much beauty each day...





This afternoon, I will be busy with some more needlework finishing...then cutting/sewing/quilting some custom projects...and I have design work to do tomorrow...I am ready for a very creative weekend!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Talk To The Animals

Today, I am back to share the fourth GO! Owl design I recently created for AccuQuilt...the "GO! Talk To The Animals Baby Quilt"...this fun, unique quilt has created quite a bit of excitement.  Just a note, before we get much further - to me this isn't necessarily a baby quilt - I think it is fun for all ages, and at 41" x 41", it is a great lap quilt, throw quilt, or wall hanging (don't let the word "baby" throw you off!).

A little bit about how this design was born...
If you have seen the packaging for the GO! Owl die, then you know there is an image on the back where the owl shapes are used to create a cow (I didn't design the cow and can't take credit for it...I'm not sure who did...). AccuQuilt asked me to come up with a small design that used the cow that was created with the owl shapes...but then that idea grew and they asked for another animal or two that could be made with the owl die....well, in usual Belinda fashion, I came up with not two, but SEVEN more animals. Each one is made using only shapes cut from the owl die, along with a few hand or machine stitches...making the owl die extremely versatile! Have I lost you yet?? Well here is an example (my favorite block)...my regular readers know "it's all about the squirrel", so of course, I used the owl shapes to make a squirrel holding an acorn. You can see I used the wing shape to help make the tail, ears, and arms...the beak is used for the feet and the acorn...and the eyes and mouth are machine or hand stitched - I machine stitched the mouth, then hand stitched French Knots for the eyes.



With my seven animals - a rabbit, a raccoon, a mouse, a frog, a pig, a koala, and the squirrel...plus the cow and the owl...we decided to put the smaller projects aside and use all the animals in one quilt. Each animal block is framed with sashing and cornerstones and a border was added. To me, what makes this project fun and extra special is: you can use only your favorite blocks, you can embellish each block, you can come up with your own animals, you can play with fabrics...you can truly make it "your own"! This model uses fabrics from Riley Blake Designs...and I finished it in time for AccuQuilt to take it to Quilt Market, where it caused a little bit of buzz (which made me smile).

The pattern gives images and instructions for each individual block, so you can make your own zoo...and you only need a few cutting dies - the owl and several squares and strip cutters...




....and, once again, the good news...for a very limited time, this pattern is available to download for FREE on the AccuQuilt website...simply visit: http://www.accuquilt.com/shop/go-talk-to-the-animals-baby-quilt-pattern.html.

It was quite creatively fulfilling for me to design and create this project and I hope it brings you as much joy as it brings me! I would love to hear about your owl projects and see your finishes!




You can read more about my four owl designs on the AccuQuilt Blog, where I recently did a guest post. I hope you have enjoyed seeing all four of my GO! Owl creations this week...and the many ways you can use one single cutting die. I will be back again tomorrow to share some needlework finishing...I have been very busy this week!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Hoot Hoot Hooray! Wall Hanging

On day three during this week of owl projects, we are going to take a look at the GO! Hoot Hoot Hooray! Wall Hanging. The focus of this particular project is the machine embroidery...yep, all those owl pieces are stitched down and embellished using digitized files for machine embroidery...so your sewing embroidery machine does all the work for you! I designed the layout for this GO! Owl wall hanging and made the quilted sample...and the machine embroidery files (GO! Owl Embroidery) were created and digitized by V-Stitch Designs.

Some of you might not be familiar with the machine embroidery process, so I thought I would share just a little insight with you. Some sewing machines come with embroidery capability - this gives the sewist/quilter the ability to embroider and embellish their work. A digitized file is loaded into a computerized sewing/embroidery machine - this file is read by the machine and then stitched out on the desired medium. For the GO! Owl Embroidery, the base block fabric and a layer of stabilizer are placed in an embroidery hoop...then the hoop is attached to the embroidery unit on the sewing/embroidery machine.  My tip for this step is to use a larger piece of fabric than the pattern calls for, so when the machine embroidery is complete, you can trim the block to the exact size needed. Once the hoop is attached and the digitized file is loaded, it is time to start embroidering/stitching. The first color to stitch out is a placement line for the first appliqué piece (in this case, the owl body). The shape is placed inside this guideline and fused (or use a glue stick) to hold it in place. The next color to stitch out will tack the appliqué shape in place. Finally, the appliqué edge will stitch out - this can be as simple as a satin stitch or blanket stitch...or the digitizer may program it to be a fancy embellishing stitch (see photos below - click on photos for larger images). Going forward, placement lines will stitch out for the owl eyes, beak, wings, etc. and each appliqué shape is tacked down and then embellished in place - and in some instances, additional elements such as a bow, heart, feet, or eyebrows are added. Machine embroidery can often appear intimidating, but with a little practice and the correct tools, it can truly enhance your work!




After machine embroidering the appliqué stitches for the six owl blocks included in this wall hanging, it is pieced and put together just like any other project. To keep the focus on the owls and embroidery, this wall hanging uses simple sashing and border strips with cornerstones to frame the blocks....and of course, you can play with the colors and prints to make this wall hanging perfect for your space!

....and, once again, the good news...for a very limited time, this pattern is available to download for FREE on the AccuQuilt website...simply visit: http://www.accuquilt.com/shop/go-hoot-hoot-hooray-wall-hanging-pattern.html. The GO! Owl Embroidery digitized files are on sale for the month of June and can be found here: http://www.accuquilt.com/shop/go-owl-embroidery-by-v-stitch-designs.html



You can read more about my four owl designs on the AccuQuilt Blog, where I recently did a guest post...and be sure to return tomorrow when I will share one more of my GO! Owl creations...

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Owl-rageous Wall Hanging

I'm back again today to talk about the second of four GO! Owl projects I recently designed and created for AccuQuilt...let's take a look at the GO! Owl-rageous Wall Hanging...

This cheerful wall hanging made from adorable Riley Blake Designs fabrics from the Summer Song 2 Collection by Zoe Pearn makes me smile just to look at it! It uses the GO! Owl and the GO! Round Flower cutting dies for the appliqué shapes. Each owl has a different look...and each owl is framed by fabric strips. This wall hanging quilt is also a perfect throw/lap size at 48" x 48"...and you can easily "make it your own" by changing fabrics and owl positions - adjust the wings and eyes, add leaves to the branches, maybe add a flower or two! You could use more traditional outdoorsy colors or I could see this in beautiful batik fabrics, as well.

When working with and centering the appliqué shapes on your base block, my tip is to use a pressing board with blocking and square-up lines – often times, these portable pressing boards are used for heirloom sewing. If you are not familiar with this type of pressing board, it is a portable size padded board for pressing/ironing with measurement/grid markings – I know both June Tailor and Martha Pullen have several on the market (they can be found at your favorite crafting/quilting stores or click on their individual names for more information). Since the base block for the appliqué in these owl projects is white fabric, it is easy to see the gridded lines through the fabric – you can use the gridlines on the pressing board to line up the block and center pieces without difficulty. I should also note, I used (my personal favorite) Pellon SF101 (Shape-Flex) interfacing to stabilize each of my blocks before the machine appliqué  – it is soft and smooth, it is 100% cotton, it adds just enough stabilization to the base block for clean appliqué, and (best of all) it is not bulky…and since it is fusible, it does not have to be torn away.


For the machine appliqué I used a blanket stitch, but a satin stitch or zig-zag stitch would work perfectly, as well...and I like to applique with a thread color that matches the fabric.

This project is very manageable for all skill levels...and if it looks a bit overwhelming, try working on one block a day (or week) and you will have all 16 blocks completed in no time!

....and, once again, the good news...for a very limited time, this pattern is available to download for FREE on the AccuQuilt website...simply visit: http://www.accuquilt.com/shop/go-owl-rageous-wall-hanging-pattern.html

Just a note about the fabric colors for those who want their wall hanging to look like the model - if you click on the link for the Summer Song 2 Collection by Zoe Pearn for Riley Blake Designs you will see actual color swatches. For some reason these bottom two photos (credit to AccuQuilt) look more red, when it is a bright pink (closer to my top two images)...



You can read more about my four owl designs on the AccuQuilt Blog, where I recently did a guest post...and be sure to return tomorrow when I will share another one of my GO! Owl creations...